Thursday, January 21, 2021

America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill - A Historical Documentary - Review.

My Review and Thoughts:
I really enjoyed watching this! I grew up in Buena Park, California. Most people know this area, or city, because of Knott's Berry Farm, and also, Disneyland. When I was younger, to me, it was small. We all went to the same elementary school, Jr. High and High School. Everyone I knew lived within walking distance of my house. We could walk to their house, Taco Bell, go get Thrifty's Ice Cream, and take off to someone else's house all in the same day! On the corner of the street that I grew up on, there was a little mom and pop grocery store. We could go get milk, eggs, and homemade tortillas! After a while, it changed owners, and became a liquor store. The liquor store is still there to this day!

We also had a city carnival every year in October, called Silverado Days. It started with the carnival on Thursday afternoon and evening, Friday afternoon and evening, then Saturday morning was a pancake breakfast, and parade. Then we'd spend the whole day Saturday at the carnival that was set up in a local park. Friday and Saturday nights, that's where we'd meet our friends to hang out. It didn't matter if we had money for the rides or not. It was the hanging out part that was the most fun. Our parents always knew that we were a block up the road, at the park, during the carnival.

Enough about my life, The Hill has that small, hometown feel. People pass their houses onto their children and their children's children. People who have sold their homes and moved out, are finding that younger Italians are purchasing their homes and moving back into the area to raise their families there. You can literally walk to a local store, restaurant, movie theater, ball park, etc. Most everything you need is a mom and pop store, and usually, within walking distance of their homes. Man, how awesome it would be to live in a small town, know your neighbors, have your neighbors help look out for one another, and just have that small town feel. I miss that.

America's Last Little Italy: The Hill Continues to Inspire Via PBS and Amazon

Documentary about St. Louis’ Italian-American neighborhood makes a solid case for being “America’s Last Little Italy”

America's Last Little Italy: The Hill, the award-winning documentary about St. Louis’ venerable Italian neighborhood continues to introduce viewers across the country to the world of The Hill.

The film debuted this past summer as part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase where it was an unprecedented success, breaking ticket sales and viewer records. The documentary tells the story of The Hill, the St. Louis Italian-American neighborhood founded by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s. Much larger than other Little Italys, The Hill encompasses some 52 square-blocks. While the most popular Little Italys across America have lost their ethnic identity, The Hill remains an actual Italian neighborhood, not just one street of tourist attraction restaurants and shops.

“In calling the documentary, America's Last Little Italy: The Hill, we prepared for some push back - but time and time again, people were thrilled to learn that a neighborhood like The Hill still exists,” said director/producer Joseph Puleo. "We have a feeling that when people actually sit down and watch the film, in the end, they will agree. The Hill truly is America's Last Little Italy."

During the festival run, the film was watched by people in many different Italian communities - including New York, New Haven, Chicago, and Little Rock. “Many commented how they couldn't wait for Covid to be over so they could come and visit The Hill in St. Louis and see what it’s all about,” explains Puleo.

Since its premiere, America's Last Little Italy: The Hill has garnered numerous awards, including the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, Best Documentary at the Venus Italian International Film Festival, and Best Documentary at the Little Rock Italian Film Festival. The film was also an Official Selection at the New Haven Documentary Film Festival and featured at the St. Louis International Film Festival. The film’s positive critical acclaim includes Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Costas who said the film was "captured with a clear eye and abundant heart." Additionally, the film continues to generate tremendous buzz not only regionally, but across the country and through social media.

America's Last Little Italy: The Hill followed up its festival run with a November 30th TV premiere on Nine Network PBS. The film, featured as part of the station’s December Membership Drive, was their most-watched and subsequently most successful program. While Puleo considers interest from other PBS markets, his documentary is currently available on DVD, where it has already achieved sales of 3,500+ and is streaming for rent or purchase via Amazon Prime Video.

America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill - A Historical Documentary






You Will Die At Twenty - Movie Review.



“Complex, stunning and sophisticated…a major achievement for Sudanese cinema.” -- Mina Takia, AwardsWatch

"Visually stunning and acted to perfection, You Will Die at Twenty is a portentous and masterful debut film." -- Claire Bowman, Amplify!

"The visual assurance of You Will Die at Twenty is the most immediately notable element of Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala’s accomplished feature debut. Beautifully composed and boasting the kind of sensitivity to light sources and color tonalities usually ascribed to top photographers, the film lovingly depicts the remote east-central region of Sudan as a quasi-magical place of sand, sky and the colors of the Nile. " -- Jay Weissberg, Variety

"[Alala] sharpens this fable-like coming-of-death tale into a moving commentary on unwavering compliance; a clear portrait of Sudan during its 30 years of authoritarian leadership. Thoughtfully ominous, the feature makes both an Emotional  and visual imprint." -- Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

SYNOPSIS: YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY follows a child — portended to die at age 20 — as he and his mother navigate the uncharted space between coming of age and facing the end. An exceptional story and only the eighth narrative feature film to be made in Sudan, YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY follows Muzamil (played first by Moatasem Rashid then as a teen by Mustafa Shehata), whose death at age 20 is prophesied on the day of his birth by a traveling sheik. Growing up with his mother, Sakina (Islam Mubarak), in a small village under the constant loom of death, the young boy becomes increasingly curious about what it means to live beyond his mother's confines. And, encouraged by local elders, his overprotective mother relents and allows her son to study the Quran with the other children his age.  In this newly found freedom, Muzamil finds friends, enemies, love, and tempters, though what he truly seeks is a sense of the present and a chance at the future.  

Directed by: Amjad Abu Alala
Written by: Amjad Abu Alala, Yousef Ibrahim
Cast: Mustafa Shehata, Moatasem Rashid, Islam Mubarak, Mahmoud Alsarraj,
Bonna Khalid, Talal Afifi
Produced by: Arnaud Dommerc, Michael Henrichs, Ingrid Lill Høgtun
Co-produced by: Sherif Fathy, Mohamed Hefzy, Marie Fuglestein Lægried,
Linda Bolstad Strønen
Cinematography: Sébastein Goepfert
Genre: World Cinema/Drama
RT: 103 minutes
Language: Arabic with English Subtitles

My Review and Thoughts:
This is another movie that I wasn't sure that I could stick with from the beginning, but I was super glad that I did. Imagine being told that you are going to die when you turn 20 years old from the village prophet, and the whole village and both your parents, believing that it's true. So you grow up believing this. 

Muzamil's mother lets him attend school when the teacher asks his mother to let him attend. The boys are mean to him at first and Muzamil doesn't have any real friends except for a friend of his mother's, daughter. He works for his uncle who tells him to take some things to an outsider and asks him to not let anyone see him. This gentleman opens up Muzamil's eyes to the larger world outside his village with videos and movies that the man has shot on his journeys. This gentleman starts to become a father figure in Muzamil's life then his real father who couldn't stay and deal with his son who was told he'd only live to be twenty.

Does Muzamil die when he's twenty? What happens between him and his good female friend? Well, you'll have to watch the movie to find out! I wish that I could give more away about the movie here, but, that wouldn't be fair. Check out the trailer below. This movie is amazing!

Before/During/After - Movie Review!




Starring: Finnerty Steeves, Jeremy Davidson, John Pankow, Kristine Sutherland, Richard Masur, Michael Emerson, Marin Hinkle, Miriam Shor, Kate Burton, Austin Pendleton and Deborah Rush

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, will release BEFORE/DURING/AFTER on demand beginning February 9. This marks the feature script debut for Finnerty Steeves (“Orange is the New Black”) who stars alongside Jeremy Davidson (“Royal Pains”), John Pankow (“Mad About You”), Kristine Sutherland (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), John Ellison Conlee (“Boardwalk Empire”) Susan Blackwell (After The Wedding) and Richard Masur (“Transparent”).

Michael Emerson (“Evil”), Marin Hinkle (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Miriam Shor (“Younger”), Kate Burton (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Austin Pendleton (Finding Dory) and Deborah Rush (“Strangers With Candy”) round out the stellar ensemble cast.

The film generated substantial festival buzz this year taking home Dances With Films’ “Industry Choice Award,” Greenpoint Film Festival’s “Best of the Fest” award, San Diego International Film Festival’s “Best Ensemble Cast” honor, Naples International Film Festival’s “Programmers Choice Award” and an exclusive drive-in showing at RiverRun International Film Festival.

before/during/after is the story of Jennie Lonergan (Steeves), a middle-aged NYC theatre actress, who is forced to figure out the kind of person she wants to be when her seemingly perfect 15-year marriage comes to an abrupt end after she catches her husband (Davidson) having an affair. The film is anchored in one day in Jennie’s life when she is auditioning for a career-making role in a play that triggers a flood of her own unprocessed memories about her marriage and the aftermath of her divorce.

My Review and Thoughts:

I liked this movie. I wasn't sure where it was going at first, but then, I was able to relate to Jennie, the man she went on a date with, her friends, and even her finding herself after a while. I am currently a single mom, and trying to make it in this world alone, is not fun. It can be super lonely at times. Even though I have friends to talk to, most of them are married. We need women friends, single ones and married ones too! We also need to know that the end of our marriage, doesn't mean that our life is over. Jennie finds her true self in the end, and it's amazing.

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets - Movie Review.

With what's going on in todays' world, I welcome a few hours of movie watching when I can. I helps distract my mind of what else could go wrong or happen to someone else I care about. I really liked Lucas Jade Zumann in the Netflix show, "Anne With An E," he was amazing! He is even more amazing in "Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets." I see him going far in his acting career.

Sixteen-year-old James Whitman played by Lucas Jade Zumann (20th Century Women, Anne With An ‘E’), struggles to overcome anxiety and depression by seeking advice from Dr. Bird voiced by Tom Wilkinson (The Grand Budapest Hotel). In his magical realism inspired world, James goes on a whimsical, but emotionally charged search to solve the mystery of the disappearance of his sister, after an altercation with their parents depicted by Lisa Edelstein (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, The Kominsky Method), and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter, Star Trek: Discovery). While James (Zumann) struggles to connect with his parents, he deals with the intense social anxiety of high school life while navigating first love with Sophie, portrayed by Taylor Russell (Lost in Space, Waves) - a precocious girl from school who has her own agenda and a boyfriend Martin that hasn’t quite learned to let go of her, brought to life by Chase Stokes (Outer Banks). Our two lovestruck teens set out on a quest to find Jorie, finding themselves in what appears to be a cult of sorts, led by David Arquette (Scream series) as Xavier, and into the under belly of NYC nightlife that makes James question every relationship in his life.

Starring: Lucas Jade Zumann, Taylor Russell, Jason Isaacs, Lisa Edelstein, David Arquette, Tom Wilkinson, Chase Stokes

Directed By: Yaniv Raz

Produced By: Shona Tuckman, Josh Bachove

Executive Produced By: Gareth West, Artur Galstian, Vahan Yepremyan, Chris LeDoux, Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard, Phillip Kim

Modern Persuasion - Movie Review!




Now Available on Digital and On Demand

Samuel Goldwyn Films will release the new romantic comedy MODERN PERSUASION, from distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, starring Alicia Witt (I CARE A LOT, "Orange Is The New Black", TWO WEEKS NOTICE) on-demand and digital. The film is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1817 novel “Persuasion", directed by Alex Appel and Jonathan Lisecki from a script by Lisecki and Barbara Radecki. The film also stars Shane McRae (THE HELP, STILL ALICE, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU) and Bebe Neuwirth (JUMANJI franchise, HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS), as well as Liza Lapira and Daniela Pineda.

Synopsis: A modern telling of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.” Wren Cosgrove is a happy, single, and self-confessed workaholic who, after rising to the top of the corporate ladder, finds herself coming home every night to her cat. When her firm is hired by Owen Jasper, “the man who got away,” long-lost feelings are stirred, giving Wren a second chance at true love.

My Review and Thoughts:

This was a cute movie. I enjoyed watching Wren navigate working with an old fling and being a grown up about it. But in the end, they really still had feelings for each other. There are some funny parts in this movie too. Great movie to watch alone or with a girl friend.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021


William H. Macy is more than just your favorite on-screen character, he’s creating gritty music and badass whiskey. His new single, “Whiskey Dell,” is a marriage of those passions. Under the moniker Willie Creeks, Macy’s inner outlaw, is personally writing spirited tales of fishing in the rugged Rockies while armed with his trusty 1935 Martin ukulele and a glass of whiskey from Woody Creek Distillers.

Whiskey Dell” features a driving kick, floor-rumbling bass, and a feverish energy brought to life through colorful collaboration with some extremely talented musicians. Watch the video HERE and stream the single HERE. Or you check out the song and video below:


Macy’s passion for music, songwriting, and spirits is boundless whilst living by Willie Creek’s mantra “you have to go to a lot of trouble to make trouble worth goin’ to." Those who worked alongside him on Shameless can attest to his constant plucking of his uke, which he is rarely without. This long-awaited journey of music and spirits signals a second act for Macy that will be anything but conventional. Don’t expect this collaboration to be half ass either, Macy is a partner at Woody Creek Distillers, noting the hilarious truth, “Look at this face, I could sell whiskey.” 

“Bill is so authentically passionate about making whiskey that we wanted to bottle it up and show people a side of him they might not know yet,” shared Tyler DeAngelo of StrawberryFrog, the NYC creative agency, who have worked closely with Macy and Woody Creek Distillers and are responsible for the nationwide roll out of the music and whiskey campaign.

Something Woody Creek Distillers and Macy have in common high up in the Rocky Mountains is that they are not afraid to surprise people with some unexpected twists. In fact, the potatoes that go into their highly touted vodka come straight from Macy’s backyard in Colorado. When Woody Creek Distillers won double-gold at the San Francisco International Spirits competition, Macy once likened it to “winning all of the Academy Awards with a film made on your iPhone.” Thanks to his commitment to renegade craftsmanship, it appears we’ll be enjoying centuries old traditions of music and spirit for some time.

Music is the earth, and spirits are the fire—the elements making everything sound a little better. After all, music and spirits are how most folks are surviving these days. Sip and laugh. Sip and cry. Sip and create. But make sure you are sipping on something from Woody Creek Distillers, while Willie sings you a tune.

About Woody Creek Distillers:

When we founded Woody Creek Distillers, our mission was simple: To pour everything we are into everything we make. We set out to make nothing but the finest craft spirits, each with a unique taste and character that was true to the origins of that spirit. It’s a standard we hold ourselves to every day. We never use neutral grain spirits or blend with base spirits from other distillers. We grow and harvest many of our own ingredients, like the Rio Grande potatoes for our premium vodka. We only source our grains from trusted Colorado farms, like the rye in our 100% rye mash whiskey. For the finishing touch, we distill every spirit we make in our own custom CARL stills – a shining copper example of engineering and art that turns the Earth’s freshest ingredients into the world’s most treasured spirits. This is without a doubt the perfect place to raise a drink.

About StrawberryFrog:

StrawberryFrog is an independent full-funnel marketing, advertising and design company, creating breakthrough campaigns (we call them Movements) so brands grow, organizations perform and employees change habits. We put together a new way of working to overcome the gap between purpose-based storytelling, data-led optimizations and business transformation. Challenging the status quo, StrawberryFrog services iconic clients like Walmart, Truist, Northwell, Woody Creek Distillers, LifeBridge Health and has delivered results for P&G, Google, Emirates Airline, SunTrust, Coca Cola and Smart Car from our offices in the Empire State Building.